Saturday, October 17, 2009

Travel Log 10-17: 31 Days Rock!

If you haven't head over to Mrs. Bs 31 days of halloween and check out what she's got to offer. Haunted blog tours, Guest bloggers, and giveaways golore!
 Today she's giving away some awesome stuff but the one that stands out to me is the giveaway from Octoberfarm .
      It's a whole bunch of goodies from Salem and the East Coast. I am crossing my fingers, doing every entry and hoping for this one!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Travel Log 10-16: Excuses, Excuses

  Well I'm sorry to say that Off the Path will have to wait unitl tomorrow night. I'm working on HRH's birthday stuff tonight, and it's going to be a late one!
But to keep up with the blog party, and because I promised to post it when I finished here is the sketch I've been working on fully colored. Oh and btw- Does anyone know of any way other than pixel by pixel in paint to color pen and ink sketches? because I'm starting to see grids everywhere, lol.

Also what would you suggest naming it?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Travel Log 10-15-2: Off the Path Parth 3

Well it's late but here is the next installment of the adventures of Tiffany!

Off the Path Part 3

     "If they think they are going to scare me they are crazy."
      Tiffany rounded the turn in the path and found herself  and found a small clearing surrounded by trees. On all sides.
      "Well isn't this just a fan-freakin'-tastic little journey. Whatever they have planned better be damn good."
     She leaned against a tree and slid down until she was sitting on the ground with her back to the tree. As she settled in to wait the sun slipped completely behind the mountain.

      The smell was always the same.
      No matter what school she was in , no matter what town, a highschool always smelled the same. Fear, sweat, and hormones. To a nervous new girl it was the smell of hell come to earth. For the "in crowd" it was the smell of glory.
     Oh how she hated it.
      Tiffany leaned on the wall outside the office as Sarah finished up the paperwork to make her an inmate of this particular prison.
      Wood floors and generous windows made it more appealing than most. Cottington had turned its old courthouse into it's school years ago. K-12  walked through the double doors everyday from September through July and filled seats in rooms that had once housed the wheels and cogs of justice. It was rather ironic really.
      The book of local legends and folktales that Sarah had given her to read had had a story about some sort of spirit who was said to haunt the old courthouse.  A Chief of the local tribe had been hanged at the gallows that had stood in the courtyard, but before they had slipped the noose around his neck he had cursed the townsfolk, the town, and the mountain itself for his death. If it wasn't a high school now, and ghost stories were fake, Tiffany might almost think that was cool.
      "Well that's that. Here is your class schedule, and they'll have one of your classmates come and show you around." Sarah handed her a slip of paper, patted her shoulder, and headed out to her car waiting in the parking lot.
      Tiffany sighed and looked down at the schedule. Her locker number and combination were written in the corner. Might as well find it and stash her stuff.
     It took her a minute to find it down a side hallway. It was actually in a pretty good location. Off the main hallway, not near the bathroom but a few down from the teacher's lounge. This should keep her away from all the crap.
     "You must be Tiffany."
      The skinny brunette pushed her glasses up her freckled nose and held out her hand.
     "I'm Amanda. They sent me to show you the ropes."
      After a quick once over she sized Amanda up as the captive nerd. The one that always gets roped into doing the dirty work because they're just too polite to tell an adult to go to hell. Poor idiot.
     "Yeah I'm Tiffany. Sorry you're stuck with me."
      "Oh it's ok. Got me out of gym. Let me give you the tour."
     As they walked around the hundred and fifty year old building Tiffany got comfortable with the other girl. Amanda was easy to listen to. She had facts stuffed in her head that just seemed to leak out or jump out at any given moment and send her off on a tangent. She had never been much of a talker, so Tiffany found it pretty nice to be around someone who so obviously didn't expect her to. She didn't even tell her that she had read about the ghost story when the girl had launched into it since she was really enjoying telling it.
     The bell rang just as they got back to her locker and kids came pouring out of the classrooms.
     "Do they all dress like that where you come from?"
      "Huh?" Tiffany was distracted trying to size up all the kids she saw wander through the hallways as they were trying to size her up. A lot of whispering and pointing was going on. God she hated that. Standing alone while everyone whispered and pointed.
      "Does everyone dress like that where you came from?"
       Startled from her thoughts she really looked around her at how all the others were dressed. It hadn't clicked before, but everyone was wearing a variation of the same thing. Jeans in shades of blue, and tops in various colors. Tiffany's all black t-shirt, hoodie, and jean combo stood out like a sore thumb. This was not good. She had thought she would blend in.
       Just as the dismay was starting to sink in They strolled into the hallway.
       The triple P's Tiffany had always called them. Pretty, Perky, Pains in the ass. Every school had a cluster of them, and obviously Cottington High wasn't going to miss out either.
       The curvy blond at the head of this particular set homed in on the new girl with almost heat seeking precision.
       "You're that weird chick's niece aren't you? Should have known you'd be strange too."
        Silence spread through the hallway  like a wave.
         Trying to pidgeon-hole her already. The strange chick. The weird girl with the weird aunt.
         Sarah wasn't weird. The nagging voice in the back of her head wouldn't let that go. Sarah wasn't weird. She was just a woman who lived by herself.
          "Sarah's not weird."
           Oh Lord, was that her voice? She knew better. You never engage. You don't give them anything to go on, and eventually they get bored and go away. Damn that voice in her mind.
          "Says the weird neice. But then I bet your whole family are experts on weird."
          "Back of Millie."
           Tiffany turned to boy who had come to her defense and felt her stomach drop and she could hear her heartbeat pounding in her head as her palms got a little sweaty. She felt heart roll right out and land at his feet.

Well I think this is a good place to leave it tonight. I'm off to bed

Travel Log 10-15: A Very Lucy Moring

I decided to finish making my crustless pumpkin pie this morning (I know, foolish foolish woman!). The kids had helped me scrape out and bake the pumpkin last night(which I did TOTALLY wrong, lol) but tonight I have to pick my husband up all the way from work and not the quick trip to his carpool so there would be no way for them to help with the actual pie making because I would get back too late. So I got the bright idea to make it this morning so it would be ready for them when they got home from school.
    This was my first mistake,lol. Then I decided I would puree the pumpkin in the blender. This worked after a whole lot finagaling (note to self-don't put your blender on a shelf for a year and then expect it to do a big job, they don't like that).
     Then I got the brilliant idea to mix all the other stuff in there too and make it a clean one appliance job. Oh poor misguided woman, all the hearth and kitchen gods and goddesses must have been thinking. I am sure there was much shaking of the head and outright laughter in the heavens as I blissfully went along with my inspired plan- even singing to myself as I felt all domesticated and competent.
      All the ingredients fit in and I decided to put the sugar in last, through the little hole at the top. It was all going so well. Yes it was getting kinda close to the top, but one of the cool things about sugar is that it disolves right?
     One thing it doesn't do is dissolve quickly.
      So when I added the sugar, all in one brilliant lump, the liquid began to bubble up and out the little hole in the top that had been the vehicle for my own form of kitchen pumpkin slaughter.
      By the time I got the little cap back in it looked like a pumpkin had sprung a very good smelling artery all over my kitchen walls. And me. And the baby.
      The Squishisaurus, who had been sitting in his highchair eating banana's next to the counter,  looked at me with eyes, just under a splash of pumpkin across his nose and forehead, that seemed to say "please tell me I'm adopted."
      I couldn't help it. I dissolved into a hysterical fit of laughter on the kitchen floor. And the little Squisherton picked up his sippy cup with an amazing amount of dignity for someone with orange goop across his face, began to drink, and very studiously ignored the crazy woman on the floor covered in pumpkin and giggling.
Here is the link to the very good (and very detailed if you follow them) instructions on how to make pumpkin pie from scratch- with pictures!
      Pick Your Own

Remember- instructions are not just for suckers as my OH tell me! Learn from my example kids, read them, love them, thanks the gods for them!
     That's all for this mid morning PBS  special!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Travel Log 10-14: Stuff and Stuff

Well I got my beloved car back today, with a brand new brake system. Apparently what had happened is the master cylander had fractured and leaked into something called the vacuum booster. Apparently that's a bad thing, Am I the only one who thinks of the felix the cat movie when they hear master cylinder?
     Well and unexpected trip to CalPoly Pomona brought about proof that college students have been stealing all the pumpkins and causing the shortage. And here it is

and that's just one half of the field!

     But that lead to me buying pie pumpkins in an attempt to make my own pie filling. this so far has not gone particularly well. I forgot to put some water in the oven when I baked them. So I have no idea how its going to turn out. But since squishisaurus has been teething, sleep is still an endanger species around here, so unfortunately I'll have to pick up Off the Path tomorrow night.
    I hope everyone is having a spooky week!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Travel Log 10-13: Off the Path Part Duex!

Well I'm Baaaack! Lol.
     I have now reached the squirrel on crack portion of lack of sleep. Which makes my OH shake his head and start hiding the coffee. But as promised I have brought you the second part of  Off the Path, my current voices in head compulsion.
     **disclaimer** Since I know quite a few of you are endowed with green thumbs let me say that  I'm researching any and all plant and herb references as I go, so if I get it wrong I'm sorry and just let me know and I'll correct it =)!
   Off The Path Part 2

     "Stupid ..huff..hick town...huff... in the middle of... huff.. nowhere."
      Tiffany was starting to get a little breathless as the path she was following weaved in and out of the forest and rose towards the base of the mountain. As she leaned against the trunk of one of the trees that line the path, she wiped some sweat away with the bright crimson scarf she had looped around her neck. She took a few moments to catch her breath.
      As she pushed off from the tree and began walking again the sun just started to slip behind the mountain.

      Tomorrow she was going to have to go to  school. This was where the real suckiness started for Tiffany. Always being the new girl got old real quick. Especially when you had the kind of baggage she carried around. The vultures would be circling by lunch time.
     She flopped on the bed in her room. The cottage had two bedrooms and she had moved her three suitcases into the spare one and found it nicer than a lot of places she'd been. The bed wasn't too small, the room was clean, and she didn't have to share it.  The pale gold walls and gold and pink patterned quilt had made the room feel welcoming and comfortable. All in all a step up from the closet sized place Rita had had her staying in.
     She had to share a bathroom with Sarah, but if she were being fair she was kind of intrigued by the strange glass bottles that Sarah kept in her bathroom cabinet.There were none of the designer labels that Rita had to have, or the cheaper knock- offs that some of the people she'd stayed with had kept. These were weird glass bottles, with different shapes and colors. There were no labels at all, and when she had pulled the little plug out of the tall blue one the smell had been great.
     The last few days had gone by pretty uneventfully. Sarah spent most of her time during the day out in the garden. After about three hours of wandering around the cottage and looking at the strange figurines and drawings that were all over the place Tiffany had given up and gone out to join her. At first she had leaned against the wall by the front door and watched as Sarah bent and clipped, or bent and pulled different plants and flowers. At first she thought that it was haphazard but after a few minutes she noticed a pattern in what plants were clipped and which were pulled out.
     "If you are at loose ends and want something to do you could help me."
     It was said in an offhand manner, and Sarah never turned around to  see how she reacted. She just kept clipping an pulling, while Tiffany stood and watched. And thought.
     Should she just go back inside and stare at the walls in her room? Should she even bother to getting to know Sarah, or would it be a waste of time since she would most likely get bounced somewhere else? Either Sarah would get sick of Tiffany or Rita's newest what's-his-name would get sick of her. She never got to stay anywhere long enough to settle in.
      She had just started to push off of the wall to head back inside when Sarah sat back on her heels and pointed to the plants she had been clipping.
     " These orange blossoms here are Calendula. They can make some decent healing aides as well as being one of the ingriedients for the facial cleanser that is in that tall blue bottle in the bathroom. If you want I can show you what else is in there."
       Now she did turn to look at Tiffany, and the steady measuring in her gaze stopped her from heading directly into the house and holding up in her room. instead she walked over to where Sarah knelt on the ground and settled next to her in silence.
      That had begun a good vibe that had pervaded through the afternoon, where Tiffany learned about a few of the plants that sprouted everywhere around the cottage, and through dinner and the evening, when Sarah curled up in front of the fireplace with a book. Tiffany had headed to her room, to brood about her life, and go to sleep.
      The next day Sarah had taken her on a tour of the village while she did her errands. As they had walked around to the various shops and places of business people had stopped to stare at them, and  a few had whispered. Great, they had all heard the little snippets that her relatives had felt like passing on to Sarah. It made her want to crawl into her own skin and hide. She hated being stared at. That was the only good thing about going anywhere with Rita and her guy of the week, there was a guarantee that no one was going to be staring at her.
       It's not like she was interesting to look at or anything. She had dyed her mousy brown hair a few months ago, so there was a strip of brown at the top of the black, but that wasn't so remarkable. And her big clunky glasses weren't hiding anything spectacular either, just plain old greenish brown eyes. Since they had that crazy no red rule she had put on a black sweatshirt and black jeans, nothing spectacular, but she seemed to be the only one they ran into that was wearing any black at all. Apparently these people hadn't heard the memo that black was the new black..
     It was all so small town too. Everyone seemed to know everyone else, and the country feeling of the buildings came through loud and clear in the people. She would be willing to bet a large amount of money that she would not be fitting in very well here.
      When it started getting late she and Sarah had headed back to the cottage and Sarah had fixed dinner. As they ate she had warned Tiffany that she would be teaching her how to help her cook. Then Sarah had settled down in the living room to read.
       When Tiffany had sat restlessly in the other rocking chair, Sarah had taken a book off of a shelf and handed it to her.
      "This is a group of stories from the area. Kind of like legends. I think that it might help you understand the people here. You can tell a lot about someone from their superstitions."
      Tiffany looked at the thick book in her hands and figured-why not? She had nothing better to do. So she settled in to find out what bogeymen the people of Cottington had hiding in their collective closets.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Travel Log 10-12: Oh How The Day Has Flown

Well today has rushed by, and unfortunately I'll have to pick up the next part of Of The Path tomorrow. Squishisaurus rex is teething like crazy and sleep was non existent last night. Add to that helping my son build his model Chumash dwelling and we have a mommy with cramped fingers and fried braincells. But on the happy side I got these awesome cookie/ baking trays that have Halloween pictures in them that imprint on whatever you bake in them. I've already made a batch of sugar cookies in them and they will make an excellent decorator cookie for the Halloween party.
   Oh and on a scary note I'll be getting new brakes put on my car tomorrow because on the way home from picking my husband up from his carpool they decided they were going to stop working. Luckily we were in a very slow zone, and not on the freeway, and we got home ok, but it was pretty scary and I thank the Gods we made it back ok.
   Here's a prayer of gratitude that I plan on sending out tonight that I found at  Rituals of Wicca :

Prayer: Gratitude to the cosmos

"Gratitude to the cosmos
swirling masses of dancers
dancer atoms
dancer gasses
dancer people
dancer animal people
dancer rocks
dancer of endless possibility
dancing emptiness
dancing reaches
& dancing arcs of outer space
dancing of all things that have ever been
and will ever be
Gratitude to the cosmos
And blessings."
by Francesca De Grandis, copyright 1992

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Travel Log 10-11-2: I Tromped Through The Pumpkin Patch....And Off the Path Part 1

We have returned from a day of fun and mayhem at the orchards. There is a really cool one that does a whole revolutionar/frontier thing and that's the one we went to (Rileys Farm) .  It was a lot of fun and we came home laden down with 2 gallons of cider we pressed ourselves, 4 pumpkins of various sizes, and a kit and information/recipe book for hard and sparkling cider making! A fun time was had by all.
     Now that we have that out of the way I believe I promised to have the first instalment of my serial up tonight, so I shall get on with that!

     Off The Path Part 1

     "This is so lame."
     Tiffany's boots crunched through the dry leaves and twigs that lined the pathway as she stomped her way through the trees. Her muttering was accompanied by slashing with the stick she had picked up along the way.
     To her left the mountain rose up, splitting the sky with it's jagged peaks while the sun inched slightly behind them. To her right, just visible over the tree tops, smoke curled from the chimney's of the village that huddled in the valley.
     The village that her oh so caring mother had dumped her into.

      When her mother had waved goodbye from the window of her little coup, then peeled out as if the hounds of hell themselves were after her, leaving Tiffany standing next to her aunt that afternoon all Tiffany could think was typical. It was so typical of Rita to drop her with some well meaning relative, or friend, or stranger, and then run as fast as she could back towards whatever loser she had hooked herself up with. Oh there were the good times. Times when Rita would hook herself up with a guy who liked having a kid around, or she would be between creeps and notice she had a kid to keep her company. But they never lasted.
       In her long fifteen years as Rita Cook-Stephens-Johnson-Arrington-Connors daughter Tiffany had become almost immune to constantly coming in third or fourth on her mother's priority list. At least that's what she told herself every night as she wondered where she was going to land the next day.
       Well this time she had landed in a tiny little speck of dust on the map with an aunt she couldn't ever recall meeting. She had seemed nice enough. A little on the froo froo hippy side, but generally ok. Tiffany had always been good at getting a vibe on a person and being dumped with practically strangers on a regular basis had taught her to trust those instincts. Her gut was telling her Sarah was ok, so she would go with that until it told her otherwise.
     Apparently Sarah had gotten all the looks in  her generation. Rita was all sharp angles and dark sultry looks, but Sarah was almost a polar opposite. Where Rita was rail thin, Sarah was curved and almost slightly plump. Rita's face had tightened through the years, but while Sarah's face had crinkles in the corners it seemed to be young. Rita's hair was teased, or sleeked, or tortured however the latest magazines said it should be, but Sarah's hair floated haphazardly around her head like a golden waving halo.
       The cottage that Sarah lived in wasn't too bad either. Set back slightly from the rest of the village the overflowing garden had made the little thatched roof building seem to almost blend into the forest that stood at it's back. Summer was almost over and huge handfulls of flowers seemed to shoot up all over, along with strange spikey plants and bushes.  If she had been a kid she would have expected to see strange faces peering out at her from the green shadows. But she wasn't. A kid that is.
      The inside had been just as strange, ok so not strange but at least different, as the outside. Walls painted in jewel bright colors, dark wooden rafters over head carved with strange creatures. A strange mix of furniture and little knicknacks left all over in a haphazard manner, as if Sarah picked them up to look at them and then put them down randomly. The old stone fireplace even had a cast iron pot in it hanging from some sort of peg. And books everywhere. Books on shelves, books on tables,  she even saw  a couple books piled into one of the glass fronted kitchen cabinets next to some plates.
      Tiffany must have gawked a bit.
      "Welcome to my home Tiffany. Feel free to look and touch, but don't break or steal. I don't know you and you don't know me, but I know Rita. And I've heard the stories that the family passes around, so I know things haven't been rosy for you. While I won't judge you, I also won't be a victim of any bad habits you may have picked up. So since you're going to be staying here for a while we better go over the rules, just so we're straight with each other from the  start and we both know what to expect."
      Sarah gestured to a pair of rocking chairs on either side of the fireplace and Tiffany eyed her warily as she sat down. So the family had been telling stories about her and Rita. She had figured they would but it was still humiliating to know that they had whispered behind their hands to each other about the crappy life she had without doing a damn thing about it. She wondered what horrible things Sarah thought she would do.
     "First off we'll cover the bases. I don't know what you've been exposed to, so I don't mean any disrespect by this, but I won't allow drugs or alcohol use in my home. Also I would ask that you get my permission before bringing anyone into the house, as well as before using the phone. While I don't expect you to stay home all the time, especially once you start getting to know people here, I do expect you to let me know where you are going, who you are going with, and when you are expected to be back. Which brings me to curfew. The front door gets locked at ten p.m. If you want to be on the inside of it and sleeping in a warm bed I suggest you be here before then. Also I will provide you with food, reasonable clothing, and shelter. Anything else I expect you to get a job to pay for. I think that covers the basics, but we may need to come up with some more as we get to know each other better."
     Tiffany blew out a breath and stared at the floor. The rules had been delivered in an even and non-judgemental tone, and she could tell that Sarah had tried to be as respectfull as possible to her. But she wondered what those stories about her and Rita had been.
     Well it had been worse. There had been the friends that Rita had left her with a couple years ago that had insisted she stay only indoors and hide in the basement when anyone would visit. It had taken her all of three days to get the hell out of there.
      " Now I have to tell you about the special rules for living here in Cottington. These are town wide rules, so everyone will follow them and expect you too as well.  They have good reason for them, and for your safety I expect you to heed them.  Number one- never go into the woods alone. Number two- never go outside of the village after the sun goes behind the mountain. Number three- never wear red. Number four- always stay on the paths. They seem strange, but I reiterate, they have good cause."

Well that's all you're getting for now, so I hope you like it!

Travel Log 10-11: Zombies and Twinkies and Bill Murray, Oh My!

   Well last night, despite my plans to be productive and get the colorization of those fall drawings done for you guys my OH had other ideas.
    My halloween prince swept me off to a drive-in movie theater. To see Zombieland. With Chinese food!
    It was a lot of fun. Pretty much a perfect halloween activity. Add to that the fact that I had never, actually been to a drive in and it was even better. I have no idea why I never tried it before, considering I have lived within10 blocks of one for the majority of my life, but there ya go, people are funny.
     The theater was awesome, the movie was all I had hoped it would be, and the zombie killing hilarity was added to by the fact that if I turned my head to the left I could see Cloudy with a Chance Of  Meatballs playing on another screen and the lip sync was absolutely priceless! There were so many parts in that movie that I laughed so hard soda almost came out of my nose, lol.
      Yes me and the OH have now added many new and amusing lines to our geeky pop culture referencing lingo and so the movie shall continue to give us laughs for years to come.
       In other Blog party news, today we are taking a trip up to the apple orchards, and shall press our own cider and pick pumpkins! A great fall activity and I plan on getting myself some great home made pumpkin butter and cookbooks while I am there!
        I will put up the first installment of that serial story I was talking about tonight, if my son's california indian tribe project doesn't have me crying in the corner in the fetal position ( can we say reeds and raffia are not the best building material?).
       I am excited to see if I can pull this project off and keep you guys interested and the twists coming as I progress the story!
       On a last little tidbit before I load the kidniks into the car and run off into harvest bliss here is a spell I found for clear skies and good weather from   Magic Spells  :


Take a container of some kind (I used a blue bottle cap) and pour some water into it,
preferably mineral water or spring water but any will do. then put some salt in it and leave it
on a windowsill if it is sunny or windy (if windy you need to make sure that it is secured and
wont blow away). If it is wet outside or humid and the water will not evaporate away, leave it
in your house in a warm place or by a window. As you pour the salt in, imagine the mixture
becoming the clouds in the sky visualize it evaporating and the clouds evaporating with it.
Then leave it to evaporate in its place. Only remove when all of the water has gone.