Treats n Suites at the StubHub Center

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Treats N Suites at the StubHub CenterOn Friday evening I took my daughter to the StubHub Center (home of the LA Galaxy) for an evening of Halloween about a week early. We found out about this through her best friend at school who went to the Easter event earlier this year. We were all planning to go together, but friend’s mom got sick, so it was just my daughter and I. The kids had to reserve a spot online about a month ago, fill out a waver and pay $5, but the adults were free (with a kid). About 500 kids attended (the event was sold out), and it was a ton of fun. All the kids dressed up and visited different rooms which were decorated and staffed by different companies or groups. They passed out candy, had games, crafts, activities, and photo ops.

LA Kings Ice CrewWe got to meet LA Kings players and the Ice Crew, some Galaxy players, and the mascots for the Galaxy and the Lakers. When we met the Ice Crew, they looked at my daughter and said, “Oh my gosh, she’s so cute! Can we take a picture with her!” (Note: not ME asking to take a picture with them. That was awesome.)

I was impressed at the people representing produce growers passing out fresh fruit – instead of candy. I saw tons of kids eating apples! One of the fruit guys was taking pictures of kids and asked to take one of my daughter and tried to get her to smile with her apple, but she was like, “Sorry too busy eating this awesome apple.” It was hilarious.

After playing one game, my daughter scored tickets to the Sparks game next season (it should be fun to take her to a women’s event!). She loved the Despicable Me room (there was a guy dressed as Gru who looked awesome!).We said hello to the Sheriffs and got some cool coloring pages from them. There was a craft table to make a bag, and her favorite place – wild animals! We got to see a two toed sloth, and pet a snake and hissing cockroach. (Well, she petted the cockroach. I would have but wasn’t sure if they flew or not. I have an issue with flying cockroaches after living in Japan.) Anyway, we had a great time walking around looking at all the costumes (and she sure loved being Jake!) I’m sure we’ll be going again next year, but hopefully with her friend! 🙂

touching a snake Coloring at StubHub center

Prayer Walk – Day 1

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I just got back from my first prayer walk. I joined our Missions Team, and one of the things our church is testing out is prayer walking – right now the staff, elders, and Missions team is testing it out to see how it goes for a month or so – we are supposed to journal or map to remember how things go, so here it is. I thought it’d be interesting to read for anyone else thinking of taking a prayer walk journey of their own.

In my case, today I only went 2 blocks up and down – destination: playground at the park. As I walked up the street, I looked at each door and prayed for that door to be opened to me and for me to be a better neighbor; for openings to serve, to share the gospel, to get to know these people. (We’ve only lived here about a year and a half.)

When I reached the park, I sat down on a bench and prayed quietly with my eyes open, looking around. I listened to the birds, the people talking, the kids, the sound of people working on their houses – lawnmowers and construction. I prayed for safety at the park, for gospel conversations at those benches and while moms were watching kids. I prayed for boldness for believers to share with others they were meeting with while at the park – on the basketball courts, the lunch tables, or while with children. I prayed to understand the spiritual situation of the area and to help claim the area for God. I prayed for God to use me as He would, and I asked Him to open doors for His word and truth. I sat there for ten minutes before heading back home on the opposite side of the street.

The way back was MUCH more interesting. Each house, as I looked at the doors, called for something different – an open door for me, an open door for Jesus, an open door to the world, or prayer for more clarification regarding what they needed. Several houses down on my return, I prayed and instead of one of those prayers, I was surprised to hear myself think “thank you Lord for these people and the work they are doing for your kingdom.” Wait, what? I stopped dead in my tracks and just looked at the house for a moment. I prayed again and was positive, thanked God again for them and for His spiritual insight, and moved on. I really wanted to knock on the door and ask, but hey, that’s a bit creepy. I’m hoping to have a chance to meet them another time.

Very much looking forward to my next walk.

Introducing the new cat

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One thing we really wanted to be careful with was making sure our old kitty Stormy didn’t develop a burning hatred for the new kitty, who we renamed Pompeii.* If at all possible, we actually wanted them to like each other, but we didn’t want to ask for too much.

under the door

Luckily, we had been watching this show on Netflix called My Cat from Hell. We love this show and actually learned a bit about introducing two new cats to each other. So we locked Pom in a back room with his own food, water and litter, and left Stormy in the main part of the house. Every night we’d open a can of cat food, open the door and sit between them as we fed them. They were so excited to eat they sat and ate, looked up at each other, ate, looked up, ate, and then were done. Usually once one would try to jump over us to get to the other, but we’d just grab him and put him back.

PomThrough the day, the two cats would paw each other under the door. One day, we switched them – Stormy in the small room, Pompeii in the main house. The next day they had a play date together for 3 hours. The animal shelter recommended we pit a dab of vanilla on each cat so they would have the same scent. Stormy cautiously looked over Pompeii, but Pom was all excited to have a new friend. One more night apart, then they seemed eager to get together again, so we let them together, and they have been ever since. The whole process took about 10 days, which was incredibly fast.

*Stormy’s full name is Stormageddon, Dark Lord of All. Adi (who passed away) was Adipose. Pompeii is named after the episode Capaldi was in before being named the 12th doctor. If you didn’t follow that, you should start watching Doctor Who.

New Kitty

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One of the hardest things (besides dealing with seeing Adi’s seizure and my Epilepsy as mentioned in the prior post), was watching Adi’s brother Stormy mourn. The two of them were together since birth: we adopted them together, they were in the same carrier on the drive home, were locked in the same room when they came home, taken to the vet to be fixed together, slept together, played together at 2am every night … you get the picture. Stormy has been inconsolable. He watched Adi die and was given some private time with Adi to see that Adi was gone (so that he wouldn’t think we just took Adi and didn’t bring him back), but that still hasn’t stopped the loneliness. Stormy has been sleeping in my lap or next to me for the past week, wandering around the house looking lost and confused, and cries at 2-3am, looking for a friend or for someone to play with. It’s heartbreaking.

Oso's first dayWith that in mind, we decided to get another cat sooner than originally planned. We were going to wait a while to give us time to think and grieve, but Stormy was just so upset, we pushed up our timeline. I started looking on adoptapet.com and was able to narrow down what we wanted a bit – a young cat (but not a kitten), who was male, and preferably part Siamese or Abyssinian (for the personality). I found 4 cats who matched, and sent out query emails. I got 2 emails back and was able to set up an appointment to meet one of the cats. Oso ended up loving my daughter, and I was told he was more a beta personality (perfect match for Stormy who is an alpha). Oso was curious and a purr machine – he just seemed to be the right match for our family.

We thanked the lady for meeting us, headed home, talked to my husband, and sent in the adoption paperwork. We went to adopt him todayand he was happy and ready to leave with us. After LOTS of talking (seriously, we were there for like 1.5 hours!), we were out the door with our new kitty! They asked us to stop at their vet and they had him put a microchip in Oso free of charge for us. Then we made it home with our new family member. Next post – how we introduced Stormy and Oso (soon to be renamed…)

Adi – Pet Passing

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(Trigger: animal death)

This post is backdated because I am filling in the gaps. It’s written 10/29, but posted the day Adi passed. This is a detailed description about his condition and days before death, but I thought it might help someone going through what we did – and it’s helping me process.

Adi and StormyTwo weeks ago, one of our kitties unexpectedly died. Adi was just about a year and a half old. For a few months he’d been having issues with his eyes – one would dilate and stick. Nothing would make it go back to normal until a few hours had passed. I took him to the vet when it started happening, and the vet said there was nothing to do short of running MRIs on the cat which would be extremely expensive. The vet thought he might be having seizures – a bittersweet thought since that’s my problem (I’m epileptic, if you hadn’t read my bio; the cat was a perfect match for me). We took Adi home and took care of him, noting the eye issues. He seemed fine – no noticeable change in diet or activity, though (in retrospect), he seemed to slowly have lost weight, and seemed to be slowing down; it was so slow we didn’t notice the change. I never saw him have any seizures, though I did see him breath funny, which I attributed to his respiratory issues (which his brother also has). In retrospect, these too were seizures. He was hiding these, and coming out to be around us as he was recovering from them. The breathing looked a lot like he was having a hard time catching his breath (but he hadn’t been running around prior to that to give him a  reason to be out of breath).

One eye dialatedAbout a week before he died, both eyes dilated. We waited to see if they’d return to normal, and when they didn’t, we took him to the vet, who recommended we see an eye specialist. We thought about it overnight (since the visit was going to run in the hundreds of dollars not including medication), then decided to take him. Friday, I drove Adi to the specialist, who confirmed that he had about 4 eye issues going on. Adi looked terrified, and seemed to be hyperventilating on the way home (I realize in retrospect this was a seizure). $500 in vet visit and medicine later, I dropped my daughter off at school and headed home to give Adi his medicine. I got one eye drop in and he freaked out. I tried more medicine later, but he was too upset, and I let it go. I thought he was scared but it seems – in retrospect – to have been a panic attack turned seizure. He went from scared to hyperventilating, to loss of bowel control, to uncontrolled biting. He went in the other room to try to calm down when I heard something that sounded like a slamming door – it was Adi’s body caught in convulsions of a Grand Mal seizure. He was being thrown all over, and finally fell on the floor and shook a few times before taking his last breath. The big seizure lasted probably 5-10 minutes. My other cat (Stormy) was scared, and hid next to me, watching and worried about his friend. I wrapped Adi in a towel, put him in an open box, and after I picked up my daughter from school, we drove Adi to my parents farm, where we was buried under a rose bush.

Adi and Stormy sleepingIt was very very hard to see him seize. Since I’m Epileptic, it hit really close to home. I felt incredibly helpless and saw the fear in Stormy’s eyes and saw what that could do to my family if I was the one seizing. I thought about how Adi’s death was so sudden and unexpected and it made me realize how well I seem to be coping with my epilepsy, but really, what I have is a serious, dangerous condition, and I don’t tend to treat it as such. It was incredibly sobering, and it was horrible for my husband to be faced with the reality of losing me. Losing Adi hit even closer for him since he had watched me seize the last time and knew what it was like. Dealing with the fallout of losing a pet unexpectedly from the very disease I live with has been an enlightening experience and while the past two weeks have been full of tears and fears, I am glad to have experienced the time with Adi and am very glad to have been there for him. I am also extremely glad to be able to face my epilepsy without having a near-death experience myself. Life is precious, and I intend to treat it even more-so that I had prior (and I thought I was doing a pretty good job!)

Family timeI loved Adi. He was a very sweet cat. When I was working, he’d come meow at my feet, then jump in my lap and purr while I was trying to stamp and get things done. While we were watching tv, we’d hear his loud meow from the other room and know he was bringing us a ribbon as a gift. He’d lay on his back with all 4 paws in the air, just chilling. He was happy to have tea parties with my daughter and loved her very much. He was a sweet kitty and will be missed; but we were better for knowing him.

Making Macarons

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Not to be confused with Macaroons. Which I also love to make. And eat.

Macarons are French and are cloudy sandwich cookies with a yummy filling. Macaroons are the shredded coconut cookies, sometimes dipped in or drizzles with chocolate.

Not enough dye, too flat, cracked. ICK.

Not enough dye, too flat, cracked. ICK.

Anyway, a few months ago, we did a French tea for church and since I was in charge of the food, I decided we should make macarons. And by we, I mean me. There were appx 180 women at the tea, which meant I needed to make 180+ macarcons correctly (and if you catch on quickly, you’ve realized that since they are sandwich cookies, that really means you need to make twice that many since you need one on each side of the filling). That said, my first several batches were complete and total disasters. I was literally sobbing in the kitchen. But I was determined to get it since they kept getting better and better each time, and I figured I must eventually get it right. My hard work and patience (which I rarely have) paid off, and I became a macaron master! I cranked out those 200 macarons, everyone ate them, they were delicious, and we all went home. (Did I mention macarons are gluten free? Yeah, that was a big motivator for me.)

This is what they should look like!

This is what they should look like!

Fast forward to about two weeks ago: one of my friends from church asked if I would be willing to make and sell the macarons to a friend of hers for an event. Um, sure! So I figured out the basic cost and charge a bit more, then set to baking on Friday. It was almost as hard the second time to get everything right, but the learning curve wasn’t as steep – I just needed to relearn what I had learned the first time. That said, I present to you the tips and tricks of macaron making in case you ever feel the burning need to try it out for yourself.

First off, here is the recipe I used. There are other recipes online, but this was the one that seemed the most authentic, and had the most consistently positive reviews. (It also actually looked do-able).

Here are the things I learned about making macarons based on other reviews:

  1. Weigh the ingredients (not by volume!).
  2. Sift the almond flour and powdered sugar – absolutely necessary.
  3. 30 strokes to mix the flour/sugar is almost exactly right, but sometimes I need a bit more. I counted every time and never went more than 35.
  4. Ice your hand between piping cookie trays (pipe about 30, then ice hand). Your hand warms up, which affects the mix, and will make the cookies come out flat.
  5. Bang cookie tray on counter to flatten cookie/get bubbles out before resting time.

Here are the things I learned myself. (These may vary by oven/region):

  1. I added color in the kitchen aid soon after adding the granualated sugar and allowed the mixer to mix for me. Some people added the color right before hand mixing the flour/powdered sugar. I assumed I wouldn’t mix well enough. There was no problem with me mixing before the soft peaks formed.
  2. I used about 3 squirts of liquid food coloring. It looks very bright (they should), but then you mix in the flour/p. sugar and the color mellows out. (Also if too pale and cooked too long, they turn brown, which is unappetizing.)
  3. Mix them too much and they lose their air and go flat. Ick.
  4. Parchment paper works best. Real Slipat works. Silicon baking sheets  do not work well at all.
  5. Do not pipe cookie onto paper/baking sheet then try to move to cookie tray. Cookies WILL crack. (I tried this as a time saver so I could make more and let them sit. Not a good idea.)
  6. Sometimes the resting time is 20 minutes, sometimes 1 hour. You need to wait until they have the skin on the top – I wait an hour to be sure.
  7. Cooking times vary. Mine took 12 mins at 300 degrees (not 10 at 285)
  8. WAIT until the cookies are cool before removing them from the mat.
  9. PEEL them off the mat – do not use a spatula.

And here are some tips to save you money:

  1. As you crack the eggs, have 2 tupperware containers ready – one for whites and one for yolks. Save the yolks for another recipe. It’s unlikely you will get exactly 100g of egg whites with 3 eggs – you will either have too much or too little, so put the extra in a container to use for the next round.
  2. The first time you try this, use a pre-made filling. It is hard work getting the cookie right; don’t stress yourself with trying to make a filling too! I used Nutella (YUM!) and it’s delicious. You can get 2 jars of Nutella at Costco for $10 and one jar fills almost 100 cookies.
  3. Don’t use pastry bags. WASTE of money. Use ziplock bags. Find a large glass cup, open the bag inside the cup with the zipper turned out. Fill the bag, turn the zipper the correct way, zip the bag. For extra control, use a rubber band on the end. Then cut a hole in the bottom of the bag.
  4. By the same token, do not try to spread the filling with a knife. You will make a mess and need to throw away (or, shoot, eat) that cookie. Put the filling in a ziplock bag and pipe it just like you would the cookie mix.
  5. Sprouts sells almond flour in the bins at the front. It’s very course, but you are sifting the flour anyway, so you’re going to get the big pieces out. This is MUCH cheaper than Bob’s Mill, which is wonderful. The only downside to using Sprouts flour is that it will cause little specks in the cookie (which I personally like – I think they are pretty). Purists won’t like them.

That’s it! Good luck on your Macaron-making adventure!

Wag ‘n Walk

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Check out my view!

Check out my view!

I’m finally sitting down to write a summary of my first craft fair. I had a great time! I didn’t make a ton of sales, but I made enough to cover the cost of my booth, and since it was a low-traffic event, I was able to get my feet wet without a lot of stress. Not only that, I was able to work out some of the kinks with my booth so that I won’t have to deal with those issues during a more major event. The one big thing I did not account for was the WIND. And man, there was a lot of it the second half of the day. I had planned to make table weights, but couldn’t find of the materials I needed, so I ended up dropping that idea figuring it couldn’t be *that* important. Boy was I wrong! The wind whipped my tablecloths all over, even knocking some of my stuff off. My fake Christmas tree fell over countless times (even when propped between books). Most of all, I was worried about my tent blowing away! Next time I will be bringing along some tent weights (just found these on Amazon – or I might just make my own or recruit my husband).

propsI got to the event about 7:40 (after getting lost – Google Maps failed me! I needed to use my GPS). It took me just over an hour to set up. The hardest part of the set up was putting up my curtains, but I had done a dry run the day before, so I did know what I was doing. Another good move I made was to hang most of my pieces on the props and then put the props into boxes and move the boxes. Yes, some of the pieces fell off the props, but probably 80-90% stayed on, which saved TONS of time for my actual set up.

penniesI had found this great tutorial on price signs, and my awesome best friend used her cricut to cut the shapes for me, so I had prices marked for almost everything (though that still didn’t stop the questions!). One change I made to that tutorial – I used a hot glue gun and instead of using a strip of paper on the back, I used the same shape on the back with identical writing so that if the card spun or if it was viewed from the opposite side of the table it could still be read. Very cool! Another idea I had – since my items are so small and hard to see from any distance, I stopped by the Dollar Tree and picked up some cheap frames, then printed out photos of some of my pieces. I places these frames around the corners of my tables to draw attention (it worked). I also have tons of props which I have slowly been collecting – they sometimes make it a bit hard to see all my items (as opposed to just laying them out on the table), but they make my booth much more eye-catching, and I’ll take that any day.

boothBesides the wind, the event was a ton of fun. Most of the people who were there were not there to shop – they were there with their dogs for a walk or for the competitions. I did make some sales and passed out a ton of business cards. Most importantly, I got to have a few meaningful conversations – I got to talk with a few people who needed someone to just listen. I’m delighted that I was there at the right time and right place and hopefully had a few words that might lend a bit of peace in their respective situations. It was a pleasure to talk with such interesting people all day!

Unfortunately, due to the wind, I didn’t get a goo overall booth picture. I meant to have my husband take one when he arrived later in the day, but by then I was busy coping with trying to keep things from blowing away and forgot about the pictures completely. I did remember to get some close ups, which is great. I’m also missing photos of my awesome price sign board and the crates and frames I set up to draw attention to my booth (both worked!). I’ll have to post photos of those the next time I do a show. Overall, I had a wonderful time and am definitely looking forward to my next fair! 🙂

trees, earrings, and nestsPenny table

necklaces keychains

P.S. Totally forgot to mention this. Remember I took a picture of my cat “helping” load my boxes? Well, that was apparently a good idea too. All the dogs that passed by just had to stop and smell my tablecloths and boxes to smell the cats. The owners stopped whether they wanted to or not. Mwahaha.