Friday, November 4, 2011

DIY: Shrunken Head Cider

Welcome, friends, to my first ever DIY blog post.

My favorite treat that I made for my Pinterest inspired Halloween party was Shrunken Head Cider. I'd love to show you all how I made it!

This particular recipe I actually found on Martha It was so easy and fun that I want to create new reasons to serve Shrunken Heads. Ha!

Anyway without further ado, here is my pictorial presentation of this "recipe."

Step 1: Gather your ingredients:

  • 2 cups lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons coarse salt
  • 8 large Granny Smith apples

Step 2: preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Yep, you heard me right. 250

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

(Confession: I had never used parchment paper until this weekend and now I'm hooked!)

Step 3: Mix up the salt and lemon juice into a bowl. You'll use it later.

Step 4: take an apple out of the bag and peel it.

Step 5: Core and cut the peeled apple in half.

At this point it's important to stare at the apple.

Go ahead and stare, I'll wait....

Are you staring?


Now ask the apple a simple question. "Apple, what kind of face would you like to have?"
Sure, it seems silly but each apple sort of gives way to different faces.

Step 6: Cut the apple into a face.

I used all kinds of different things to carve the faces: paring knife, mellon baller, cookie dough scoop, etc...

Confession #3: I'm kind of obsessive. Each face had to be different. Each face had to be fun. Each face had to be "perfect." I definitely failed at the last goal, but thankfully there is magic in a little self-forgiveness every now and again.

The key is have fun.

Remember every cut line will show up when they shrink. But as our old friend, Bob Ross, used to say, "We don't have mistakes here, we just have happy accidents."

Step 7: Throw your cut apple into the lemon juice and salt mixture for at least one minute.

This really helps stop/get rid of the browning. It's actually quite magical to watch the brown disappear.

I liked to fill up the core with the lemon juice mix and then flip it and let the other soak for awhile.

Step 8: After they have soaked long enough (normally the time it takes to peel, core, and cut the two faces into the next apple), then let the excess salty lemon juice drip off on some paper towels.

Step 9: Place your apple faces on the parchment paper and place in the oven.

Step 10: Wait.

Perhaps work on your next craft. Or watch an episode or two of Psych, like I did.

Because the temperature is so low, it takes quite awhile. Martha says 90 minutes. Mine were much closer to the 2 hour mark.

They are done when they start to brown up in all the right places. Martha also says they are supposed to be dry. I don't think mine were ever really dry. Perhaps I should have upped the temp a smidge. The oven I was using isn't particularly known for being a stable source of heat.

Step 11: Take them out and enjoy. Marvel at their adorableness.

Step 12: My party wasn't until least 24 hours later so I decided to freeze mine. I just stacked them in a little container and put parchment paper between each layer. They were perfect when they came out the next day. perfect.

Step 13 (!): Float them in your cider! It's so fun and simply spooky. :)

I just mixed a gallon of Kroger cider and one can of frozen lemonade concentrate in a crock pot and set it on low. It was quite a hit at the party!

Delicious & fun = perfection!

I hope you enjoyed my DIY. Next time I'm importing all the pictures first. Ugh...that was a pain. Anyway, see you next time cyber world.

PS. A special shout-out to my friends whole let this nomad use their kitchen: you guys are the best!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Still a Wanderer

It's been quite a well still I last updated the cyber world on my life location.

I suppose in a lot of ways I'm still in the same place. Instead living on my mom's couch, I'm now living on a mattress in my best friend's parents house. Instead of working a temporary job at the local high school, Wednesday I begin temporary work at the local museum. Instead of the flatlands of northcentral Indiana, I'm now in the beautiful hills of southwestern Ohio.

Ah, but life is different.

I'm back in Cincinnati. It may not be my hometown but it is my heart-town.

I chose Cincinnati 10 years ago to be the location where I would start my life when I began attending Cincinnati Christian University as an overconfident freshmen who was set out to take the world by storm.

I returned 10 years later as a barely confident, single, childless woman with no great world domination to speak of, who sees the magical number 30 a little more each day.

However, since my less-than-triumphal return, things have definitely been looking up. It's much easier to pick yourself up and dust yourself off when you are in a constantly bustling city surrounded by good friends and fresh ideas. This is a place where you can feel something is around the corner. There is no room to wallow in self-pity and self-inflicted self-defeat. There is too much "self" in that. Here is about others. There is always a place to pitch in. Help a friend. Help a neighbor. Help a stranger.

I have been focusing on embracing where I am in life:

Am I single? I enjoy it! I can travel and explore and change plans at a second's notice.

Am I childless? I babysit my friends kids. Most of them are happy for the break. And I'm happy for the kid time. I still really miss my boys in Chicago. It's been a over year and they are still forever embedded into my mind and soul. Thankfully there are some adorable distractions here in this community. (I should take a moment here and state the obvious: I know that being childless at 28 does not mean I will be forever or even that I'm weird or whatever. However, at this moment all of my friends, sans one girl, are in committed relationships, married, pregnant, and/or already a parent.)

Am I, for lack of a better phrase, barely-confident? I am starting to put myself out there again. I'm trying to remember what I am good at and focus on that. When did I get so off track? I'm starting to realize that every hero has this downturn part in their story. Where would Joseph have been if he whined about the unfairness about his time in jail and sat pouting in the corner of his cell the entire time instead of interpreting the dreams of his cell mates? Where would Moses have been if he kept grazing sheep when he ran away from Egypt instead of heading over and checking out the burning bush? Where would Peter have been if he hid from Jesus after denying him instead of jumping out the boat and swimming toward land the moment he saw him? Sometimes I forget it's all a part of the ultimate story. I feel like I'm running out of time. That's the biggest lie I keeping believing. I get swept up in the crappy part of the story I'm currently in and forget that even in the dumb parts, there are bright moments of foreshadowing. I can't possibly know yet which part is the foreshadowing. The story isn't over. When I remember these simple truths, my confidence returns and I am ready to face whatever the world throws at me next.

Now that I've realized what's going on/where I am in the story. It's time to move the plot forward. I've been being reprogramming myself to do just that. The number one way to do that is Time management. The hardest thing about being unemployed for a long time is not letting yourself become a vegetable. It's really easy to do nothing but watch tv shows on Hulu, stalk wonderful craft ideas on Pinterest, and play dumb internet games like the Sims on Facebook. (not like I've done any of those, fine, in the past hour...) I'm now trying to create daily schedules for myself to ensure I use this time to enjoy the opportunity I've been given. So I schedule things like "go outside and sit on a blanket for an hour" (seriously, best October weather in years!) or "take your camera and shoot a place you've always wanted to document" (Cincinnati has amazing stuff to capture!) or "create something for someone else." This leads into my second step in moving the plot forward: create!

In the past month, one of my close friends has begun calling me "Martha Stewart" a lot. Ha! Let's not kid ourselves, I'm no where near Martha's level. Nor do I want to be. (that lady scares me) However, I realized if I'm not currently creating on stage, I do still need to be creating somewhere. I am an artist and I need the outlet. It's been crazy. I've made everything from t-shirts to surprise Christmas presents. Last night, I threw a huge halloween party and made everything (aside from the witches' hats) for it! yes, yes, I'm insane. Thankfully, my friends and little sister are amazing and helped where they could. Seriously, the menu: mini mummy dogs, skeleton & coffin dip, pumpkin dip inside a pumpkin, sugar cookies, ghost pretzel rods, witches hats, worms, broken glass cupcakes, shrunken head cider, blood punch and spiders in the ice cubes! I also created over half of the decorations: specimen jars, mummified pumpkin, vampire pumpkins, and skeleton guess jar. Perhaps sitting around on Pinterest is helpful after all. haha!

Well this, per my usual, is getting long. Perhaps I'll post a few how-to blogs. I did take pictures along the way. And then my camera died....just as my party started...d'oh!

See you next time, cyber friends and random internet stalkers.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

My Deliverer Is Coming...

Dear friends,

I began this blog in the fall as a way for all of you to follow my escapades as I drove across America. I loved almost every second that road trip. I loved that I was able to experience America in a whole new way. I was able to take pictures, both with my camera and my mind, that will forever connect me to the spots I had traveled. I read an article about something in Idaho and I see Idaho. I watch a news program about a bomber in Spokane, and my mind takes me to Spokane. I watch TMZ and recognize most of the filming locations as places I've walked around, eaten at, or tried (unsuccessfully, I'll happily admit) to also stalk famous people. Heck, I play Oregon Trail and now know exactly how far it is from Ohio to Oregon. (Thankfully, I never had to caulk my wagon and try to ford a river hoping that little Timmy was rested up enough after the snake bite that we wouldn't lose him but only 2 sets of clothes!)

Mostly, though, I've loved this blog because I was able to take you with me. I know that you don't have all the same tangible memories that I have but maybe I was able to tell you enough about something that you are able to identify more as well. Maybe you now love Washington State a bit more because of my urging. Perhaps, you now want to visit Oregon and shop in their amazing sales-tax-free-ness.Or perhaps, you, like me, can now visualize a real buffalo when hunting on Oregon Trail. (too much Oregon Trail?)

In the same way, during this wintry doom that is upon us ("Snowpocalypse 2011," if you will) my mind instantly goes from worrying about the blizzard in Chicago to the ice fields of Indianapolis and Cincinnati.


Because I've lived there. I know the cities. I know the people. I worry for friends. I worry for strangers. I worry for the homeless. I know what the cities are. I know that, as good ol' Midwestern cities, they are relatively used to and definitely know how to brace themselves for weather such as this. I've received photos from friends and family of inches of ice, feet of snow, and empty store shelves. I'm sure this is not much unlike your experience. (Even if it's not, it now can be...after all, you care about me, right? well, I'm stuck right in the middle of Chicago and Cincinnati with 6 inches of ice, snow, and our friend sleet. ugh.)

We know these places because we've been there. Our hearts break because we care personally about the welfare of the citizens and the land of the places that we have come to love.

I'm writing all this not to remind you of those places that you are attached to, but to tell you, once again, from a personal point of view, of another place that I love, I have seen with my own eyes and that I am heart broken over:


In the fall of 2009, my mom and I had the unlikely opportunity to travel to land of the Pharaohs and stay for 3 weeks. We visited Cairo to marvel at the pyramids, experience the Cairo museum, and have dinner on the Nile. We ran played ultimate, real life Frogger as we ran across lanes of unyielding traffic. We hung out with Bedouins (one even offered my mom camels in exchange for my hand). We got to know Cairo. Now, I cannot say that we fell in love with Cairo. We saw a lot of corruption. We were worried for those we got to know.

After a few days in Cairo, we went to Alexandria. Here was we really got to know Egyptians. Sure, we took in the sites in Alex too, like the Library and the bazaars. But here we got to know Egyptians. We got to go on crazy car rides. We got eat dinner with new friends. We got to pray together and play together. I learned a few silly phrases and even picked up the nickname "magnoona" which translates to "crazy." haha. It was a good time. There were a small group (4-5) of guys I befriended.

Last night, I saw one of those friends on the news. He was carrying a sign protesting. Knowing that it was risky, I sent him a message on the computer last night saying that I saw him and that we are praying.

This morning I got a response:
"yah (my name) plz pray for egypt and for us this is hard days no safe at all at all"

And so, I'm sending that message on to you. Please pray. Please pray for Egypt. Pray for my friends. Pray for the country I have seen and walked on. Pray for the country that you have read about here, online, and in your Bible.

I don't know what is right here. I don't know if the president should step down. I don't know if democracy would be better. I don't know much about this. But I do know the One who does. I do know the One who has heard cries from Egypt before. I know that we need to petition before Him to have His will done.

Egypt can be a scary place. It doesn't have to be. But I can tell you, that Egypt falls to the Brotherhood, it won't just be Egpyt that is a scary place. Egypt will just be a launching pad for much worse things. Please pray. Pray for the Egyptians. Pray for the Coptic Christians in Egypt. Pray that they can bring Light to this dark time.

When I first came back from Egypt, I posted these lyrics from Rich Mullins on my old blog as they resounded with me in a way they never had before. I'm going to post them now, because, hopefully they'll resound the same way with you...

Joseph took his wife and her child and they went to Africa
To escape the rage of a deadly king
There along the banks of the Nile,
Jesus listened to the song
That the captive children used to sing
They were singin'

My Deliverer is coming - my Deliverer is standing by
My Deliverer is coming - my Deliverer is standing by

Through a dry and thirsty land, water from the Kenyon heights
Pours itself out of Lake Sangra's broken heart
There in the Sahara winds Jesus heard the whole world cry
For the healing that would flow from His own scars
The world was singing

My Deliverer is coming - my Deliverer is standing by
My Deliverer is coming - my Deliverer is standing by

He will never break His promise - He has written it upon the sky

My Deliverer is coming - my Deliverer is standing by
My Deliverer is coming - my Deliverer is standing by
My Deliverer is coming - my Deliverer is standing by

I will never doubt His promise though I doubt my heart, I doubt my eyes

My Deliverer is coming - my Deliverer is standing by
My Deliverer is coming - my Deliverer is standing by
My Deliverer is coming - my Deliverer is standing by

He will never break His promise
though the stars should break faith with the sky

My Deliverer is coming - my Deliverer is standing by
My Deliverer is coming - my Deliverer is standing by
My Deliverer is coming - my Deliverer is standing by
My Deliverer is coming - my Deliverer is standing by
My Deliverer is coming - my Deliverer is standing by
My Deliverer is coming - my Deliverer is standing by
My Deliverer is coming - my Deliverer is standing by
My Deliverer is coming.

**I know this isn't my typical lighthearted, silly post. It's a little political. It's a little religious. It calls for drawing lines in the sand and praying to the the God of the Universe who knows and understands. I don't normally do things like this but enough is enough. I can't sit by anymore. Please join me in prayer.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Year of the Sloth

Dear friends,

It would appear I haven't written in awhile. eek.

Well, let's review what you missed, okay?
- I moved into my mom's house.
- I haven't left.


Meanwhile, I have watched endless hours of television: both good and bad.

I can tell you that while 10 and 11 am are good times to watch tv, 9 and noon are not. Also the best movies start at about 11 pm and are on really bizarre channels. Personally I'm loving the 1950 & 60s movies.

There was a month when I was working. I had my mom's job while she covered someone else's job. It was actually really cool to be an interpreter for a hearing impaired/visually impaired 16 year old. It was strange to re-walk the halls of my high school. Seeing former teachers. Seeing former prom dates who were now teacher. (ok, admittedly, there was only one that fits that description...rumor is other prom date ended up a stripper...uh, whatchya gonna do?)

Since that time, I've celebrated at least 4 Christmases, one New Year, visited Cincinnati twice, played with my god-nephew (sure, that's a real thing) numerous days, read 3 books, written a skit, and hid from all actual responsibility.

I'm tired of all this though. I'm absolutely ready to move on. I think I have it down to Los Angeles or Cincinnati.


Until next time, super faithful readers. :)